You know what my favorite part about Catan is? The part where you lay down the board, lay out your first pieces, and roll the dice for the first time. So much order, so much hope, so much potential. And you just know that, in a mere few minutes, chaos will reign again.
In next Tuesday’s newsletter, I’m going to lay out what I think will be the five most important storylines that Hot Pod will be pursuing in 2019. It will almost certainly not be the five biggest things that will come to define the year by the end of it, but hey, we gotta try.
Anyway, “most important” doesn’t mean “only.” There are dozens of storylines that I’m going to be tracking as we head into the fifth year of this newsletter. Here are thirty of them — an arbitrary number, but we gotta stop somewhere — phrased as questions:
What will Apple’s place in the podcast ecosystem look like by the end of the year?
Earlier this week, Apple reported its biggest miss in years and issued a pretty dire warning to its investors, sparking concerns over the shape of its future growth. Obviously, at this time, podcasting remains a minor concern to the Cupertino spaceship, but given that Apple continues to be the defining factor in the ecosystem, what does the company’s new reality mean for our comparatively tiny village?
There is expectation of an economic downturn this year. If that happens, how will it impact the podcast industry?
Will Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project actually drive meaningful audiences?
While we’re on the subject of other platforms: will we finally see meaningful contributions from Spotify and Google?
Solving podcasting’s monetization gap still sits firmly in the minds of many. Can those monetization problems be solved in a way that equitably benefits small, medium, and big podcast companies alike?
Did podcast advertising revenue grow last year? (Keeping an eye on the next IAB Podcast Revenue report.)
Will NPR’s Remote Audio Data initiative actually move the analytics needle? Which is to say: will the podcasting paradigm shift from downloads to listens without a centralizing platform taking over?
Did podcast listenership grow last year? (Keeping an eye on Edison Research and Triton Digital’s Infinite Dial study, which will continue doing its thing despite EW Scripps acquiring the latter last October.)
We’re totally going to see more acquisition and consolidation this year. The question is how many, and who goes.
Semi-related: Which podcast publishing operation will give up and fold next?
Also related: Will more legacy radio broadcast companies buy their way into podcasting?
Will American podcast publishers meaningfully start drawing revenue from international listens this year?
Luminary: what’s up with that?
Consider me super intrigued by Anchor, which finally got itself a shiny business model. Will more advertisers sign onto its marketplace, and more importantly, will it successfully support sustainable podcast businesses on its platform? (Bonus question: what are the odds that Anchor’s exit scenario is being acquired by a certain tech giant that’s totally into advertising marketplaces? WHAT ARE THE ODDS INDEED)
Let’s get off the advertising train for a hot second. Will we see more successful crowdfunding initiatives from more podcast publishers this year?
Will we see more innovation in non-advertising revenue campaigns from independent publishers, more generally?
The Hollywood adaptation pipeline will only continue to get stronger, I reckon. A dual-edged question: how many more podcast companies will we see more explicitly position themselves as “IP factories”?
Who will be the new CEO of WNYC and NPR?
What will the newly combined PRX-PRI entity get up to?
Will Podtrac finally convince more big publishers to join its ranker? (Bonus question: will we see more concerted efforts at creating an effective podcast charts system?)
What is the future for the third-party podcast app?
Will we see meaningful increases in non-English speaking podcast production and consumption?
Who will be the ones who start the next independent podcast studios? (Bonus question: can there be too many?)
Can the podcast market sustain more daily news podcasts? (Bonus question: where does The Daily go from here?)
Does China’s paid on-demand audio ecosystem actually have something to teach us?
Who will find the new voices? (Bonus question: who will train the next generation of producers?)
Where will the next generation of executive producers — like, people who can legit run new shows from scratch — come from?
Will we see yet another round of argumentation around “Why doesn’t audio go viral?”
What will be the NEXT BIG HIT? (AW YEAH)
Maybe one more:
Will my parents ever understand what I do for a living?
What are you biggest questions heading into the year? Let me know. If I get a good number of printable ones, I’ll run ‘em in the next Insider.